The Psychology Behind I’m A Celebrity
Soon we will be tuning in once more to beat the winter blues by watching the new arrivals in the Australian Jungle. The campmates have been carefully selected, and evaluated by the shows psychologists and psychiatrists to assess their psychological fitness to endure three weeks of stress and endurance. They will be living in very unnatural environments for the three weeks and will experience various levels of psychological intensity and invariable levels of coping skills to become King or Queen of the Jungle. We can recall Tracy Solomon’s hilarious giggles and the effervescent Joe Swash, now her new beau, and last year’s Vicky Pattison. But have your really thought about the effects this exposure has on their individual psyche and physiology? Here is a glimpse into the work of the TV psychologist who would be a consultant to the show and what producers need to take into account in the shows production. As a Celebrity Psychologist who has studied their behaviour on and off-screen for many years I want to outline the major psychological issues they have to deal with.
1. The Power of the Situation
They will evaluate other campmates motivation and fears on the Bushtucker trials and become competitive. If the viewers bring their own negativities to individual celebrities by voting them onto more Bushtucker trials then the Celebs motivation centre is alarmed to push themselves to the limits to “save face”. Personality and power of the situation work together to predict celebrities social behaviour in the Jungle.
2. Impression Formation.
All campmates are out to impress and whilst we know from psychological and media research they score high on Narcissism traits in most cultures, nevertheless, they will be motivated to show their other side some of the time, but not all of the time. Levels of male and female physical attractiveness will make a first impression on viewers and this will influence voting behaviour, their psychological makeup comes second. Viewers agree on who is hot and who is not! People have a strong tendency to associate physical beauty with positive personality characteristics. He or she will see that other person as a possible alliance if a campmate views another campmate as more attractive. In past series of I’m A Celebrity these alliances often become Jungle romances with potential for off-screen romance. Attractive females form onscreen alliance with attractive males in the Jungle. (Maybe not facilitated by the Leeches!) campmates will also work out who is not to be trusted and who will stab them in the back, so to speak. Bring out the Lady C to put the camp in order. Alliances are vital as people have to stay alive and survive in restricted diets so strategising is central. Getting people to like you means a lot. Watch out for deception and deceit in the camp as campmates will gradually disclose what information they disclose to others. Manipulation of information and personalities will become established within the first three days of being there. The most common strategy contestants use is self-promotion. They champion their own cause by extolling their own virtues, demonstrating their abilities and minimizing their shortcomings. Supplication will be used and seen by those who constantly remark about tiredness hunger diet and lethargy.
3. Lights, Camera, Attraction.
A wide range of emotions will be displayed in the Jungle as the campmates emotional mechanisms in the brain will be stretched to their full capacity. Winning a Bushtucker trial will bring immense joy and self-satisfaction winning a meal for their campmates. High arousal during some of the trials will produce emotions of love for some campmates.
4. Stress and Coping in the Jungle environment.
Stress produces dominance in some individual campmates and so we see a shift in the parameters of the game. To combat the stress some campmates will form alliances rather spontaneously, becoming an extremely important and predominant gamesmanship tactic. Stress among campmates generates another strategic tactic known as gossiping about the others.
5. Physical Stress
The entire jungle experiences is imbued with physically gruelling tasks not normally experienced in their daily lives back in UK or USA. They are relatively deprived of shelter water and food to some degree, leaving aside the many ethical issues involved in this situation there are agreed limits above which producers must not tread. There is a duty of care towards all campmates and this has to be balanced out within the context of the realty show. This motivates them to improvise as best they can and also attempt to win a meal for their team. Physical stressors such as food deprivation also alters their psychological functioning such as motivation and irritability besides frustration and increased awareness of their isolation from family back at home. This can trigger aggressiveness and impulsive behaviours with outbursts of anger and fatigue.
The campmates have been carefully selected, and evaluated by the shows psychologists and psychiatrists to assess their psychological fitness to endure three weeks of stress and endurance. If a campmate views another campmate as more attractive, then he or she will see that other person as a possible alliance. Stress produces dominance in some individual campmates and so we see a shift in the parameters of the game. To combat the stress some campmates will form alliances rather spontaneously, becoming an extremely important and predominant gamesmanship tactic. Stress among campmates generates another strategic tactic known as gossiping about the others.
Read more interesting articles from celebrity psychologist Dr Arthur Cassidy behavioural and celebrity psychologist.